It’s been one year since a video of George Floyd’s death on May 25, 2020 sparked protests, first in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and then across the United States and dozens of countries around the world. While George Floyd was not the first, nor the last victim of racial injustice in North America, that event, combined with evidence of racial disparities arising from COVID-19, compelled individuals and entire industries to contribute to change that has been desperately needed for decades. On June 3, 2020, the CAS added our voice to the many organizations speaking out in support of justice, equity, diversity and inclusion, with a letter from then President Steven Armstrong and CEO Victor Carter-Bey.
Of course, words are made more meaningful when they are supported by action. The CAS has been committed to fostering a diverse, inclusive actuarial profession for many years, but progress has been a challenge to achieve, and the events of last summer showed us that we needed to dig deeper. In September 2020, the board of directors approved a new CAS Approach to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I), supported by an action plan of over 40 activities to be initiated over the next year.
The board also approved a significant increase in funding for DE&I activities, including multi-year investments in the International Association of Black Actuaries (IABA), Organization of Latino Actuaries (OLA), The Actuarial Foundation, and organizations supporting higher education for Black, Hispanic/Latino and Native American students.
That same month, CAS volunteer leaders convened at the annual Leadership Summit and discussed strategies to attract, engage, retain and develop a diverse group of future CAS leaders. We also introduced the topic of “equity” and began thinking about how we can question our systems and processes to account for an external playing field that is never truly level. This training was a first step in scrutinizing the processes in place within the CAS to combat systemic bias.
High School Actuarial Day … addresses one of the many barriers to entry for underrepresented candidates — a lack of awareness or late awareness of the profession.
While focusing inwards at the Leadership Summit, we also needed to make sure that CAS members were aware of important efforts underway in our partner organizations. 2020 saw the formation of the Sexuality and Gender Alliance of Actuaries (SAGAA) — an independent, cross-practice group of LGBTQ+ actuaries and allies. The CAS was excited to support this group in their efforts to promote inclusion, networking and advancement of LGBTQ+ actuaries. OLA also made great strides in 2020 with their new OLA Academy program, building Latinx candidates’ resumes and interviewing skills and helping many candidates land actuarial jobs and internships. The IABA published comprehensive recommendations for employers to increase the number of Black actuaries in North America, as well as “A Tale of Two Actuaries” comic strip, which will be featured in an upcoming AR issue. Members attending most CAS Regional Affiliates meetings got to hear more from SAGAA, OLA and IABA on these important programs and recommendations.
The summer and fall of 2020 also saw accomplishments in the CAS/SOA Joint Committee for Inclusion, Equity and Diversity (JCIED). The Career Encouragement Working Group pivoted its High School Actuarial Day from an in-person to a fully virtual format. This event addresses one of the many barriers to entry for underrepresented candidates — a lack of awareness or late awareness of the profession. The pilot event, now called Be An Actuary Day, was held in September 2020 and was such a success that the JCIED will be hosting at least seven virtual Be An Actuary Days across the United States in 2021.
In addition, the JCIED’s Professional Education Working Group ensured DE&I-related continuing education sessions were included in major CAS and SOA events throughout the year, and the Leadership Working Group developed a set of recommendations for both organizations to implement to develop a diverse group of future leaders.
Finally, the JCIED brought forth a recommendation to the CAS and SOA leadership to expand the Diversity Exam Reimbursement program. This program has been in place for many years to address another barrier to entry, lack of financial support for those attempting preliminary actuarial exams. The expanded program, informed and inspired by programs offered by OLA and IABA, now provides a study material stipend and exam fee reimbursement for students passing any of the first four preliminary exams, and it encourages failing candidates who made good faith attempts to persist in the exam process.
Meanwhile, CAS leaders turned their attention towards another important topic: how societal systemic racism impacts the work of actuaries and the role actuaries can play in addressing it. In December 2020, the board approved the CAS Approach to Race and Insurance Pricing, with key areas of focus in education, research, leadership and collaboration.
Since December 2020, the CAS has initiated discussions with several external organizations to share information and identify opportunities to cooperate on research for topics such as systemic bias and disparate impact in insurance pricing. We have also included continuing education sessions on disparate impact and racial bias at the 2020 Annual Meeting and the 2021 RPM Seminar and Spring Meeting. In early 2021, we kicked off several research projects covering the impacts of systemic racism and potential solutions in insurance and other industries. We are also piloting a Race and Insurance Discussion Group, which is a series of six small-group discussions on the interactions between systemic racism, insurance and actuaries as individuals and professionals.
Our work in DE&I will continue for many years to come, but we are making progress towards to ideals set out in the Strategic Approach to DE&I. The CAS published a series of four infographics, our Spotlight on Diversity 2020, detailing aggregate member demographics across gender and race/ethnicity groups, as well as long-term targets for increasing representation of underrepresented groups. Check them out on the CAS website or find select infographics in Actuarial Review throughout 2021 (including this issue).
We kicked off several research projects covering the impacts of systemic racism and potential solutions in insurance and other industries.
In 2021 we are looking forward to stronger outreach to minority-serving colleges and universities as well as engaging our long-term university partners in our DE&I strategy. These efforts will help us increase awareness of the profession among underrepresented students. We will couple that with additional opportunities to gain relevant experience and network with practicing actuaries, like the return of the CAS Student Central Summer Program, originally created to fill the void of lost internships in 2020 due to COVID-19. We will continue to identify opportunities for CAS members to learn more about and get involved with IABA, OLA and SAGAA in their efforts to advance Black, Latinx and LGBTQ+ actuaries and candidates, and we will look to those organizations for recommendations on how to best support the communities they serve. We are also keeping tabs on and offering our support to new actuarial affinity groups coming to life in 2021. We can’t wait to bring more news of that to our members, so stay tuned!
Here are a few ways you can learn more or get involved in actuarial DE&I efforts:
- Check out the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion page coming soon on the CAS website for a host of resources you can use to promote DE&I in your volunteer committees or at your employer.
- Join the Diversity Impact Group (DIG) online community to stay up to date on news and volunteering opportunities from the CAS, JCIED, IABA, OLA, SAGAA, The Actuarial Foundation and more. (See DIG it! box for details on how to join.
- Email Mallika Bender at email@example.com with questions or suggestions.
Mallika Bender, FCAS, MAAA, (she/her/hers) is co-chair of the CAS/SOA Joint Committee on Inclusion, Equity and Diversity. She is a P&C actuary with experience in the United States and Australia.
CAS Strategic Approach to Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
With a clearer understanding of the society in which we operate and its impacts on our own members and candidates, the CAS recognizes that equality will never be achieved until equity is our guiding principle and pledges to:
- Center and amplify the viewpoints of underrepresented candidates and
members — those who have been doing this work for years and know
best how to address the issues of their constituencies.
- Break down the Barriers to Entry identified in the 2017/2018 SOA/CAS/
IABA/TAF Research Study.
- Scrutinize and rebuild CAS systems to combat direct and indirect systemic
bias, and ensure our work does no harm.
- Recognize that we do not exist in a vacuum and that we cannot succeed
unless we invest in the community at large, with particular focus on organizations
that support racial justice in education.
- Set concrete goals and maintain transparency and accountability around
progress and failure.
- Employ learnings from the above process to address issues facing members and candidates in other historically marginalized groups within and outside of North America.
CAS Approach to Race and Insurance Pricing — Focus Areas
- Basic and Continuing Education — to provide members and candidates with a strong foundation in the historical issues of systemic racism and their potential impacts on insurance, covering concepts of disparate impact and discrimination, past and current research, and professionalism implications.
- Research — to develop methodologies that identify, measure, and address disparate impact, to evaluate emerging technologies and to prepare actuaries and insurers for potential regulatory actions, in alignment with the CAS Core Values of continual improvement and innovation.
- Leadership and Influence — to play a leading role in the discourse on potential racial bias in insurance pricing, among our membership as well as across the insurance industry and with the public.
- Collaboration — to proactively engage and partner with regulators, insurers, actuarial bodies, consumer groups and other organizations addressing issues related to race and insurance, and to ensure that diverse perspectives contribute to CAS-commissioned efforts.
DIG it! Join the Diversity Impact Group!
- Visit the CAS Online Community at
- Sign in with your casact.org password.
- In the COMMUNITIES menu, select ALL COMMUNITIES.
- Scroll down to Diversity Impact Group and select JOIN.